Photos of the Cathedra and Tiara

I went to the Basilica this afternoon. I got some breathtaking shots.

These will only scratch the surface of what I got.

First, you should know that it is pretty dark in the Basilica, so steady is the name of the game. Here is a shot through the columns over the main altar toward the apse, where you can see the candles arrayed.

A closer view.

The bronze Cathedra is decorated with lighted candles only once a year, today.

The black bronse statue of St. Peter attributed to the marvelous Arnulfo di Cambio was always dressed up in his cope and tiara, with a ring on his finger and pectoral Cross on two days, 29 June and today. Then the moderists in the Fabrica started fooling around. Too triumphalistic. They started cutting out elements. But all of them were back today except for the griccia alb, which I can live without I guess.

And ….

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. genevieve says:

    This kind of beauty that glorifies God is what the world needs today!

  2. Jon says:

    Thanks for taking the walk over, Father. Although today didn’t turn out the way I’d prayed, this was fine compensation.

  3. Brian says:

    Wow – those really are very good shots from inside St. Peter’s! I’ve tried taking pictures in there with a digital camera before, and it really is difficult without a tripod.

  4. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    Fr. Z. is an excellent photographer. Maybe sometime you will have time to publish a book on Rome, with hundreds of these beautiful photos.!

    Seeing all the candles around the Altar of the Chair brought back memories of the tapes I have of the Vatican of Pius XII. Very similar decorations…..but of course then it was much more impressive.

    Still, I think we should be thankful for this. Also for the return of the tiara, and proper robes for St. Peter’s statue. I think it might be a sign that the liberals at St. Peters’ have lost. (Maybe Marini won’t be back for another term??)

    I have one question though. Looking at the Papal altar, I see beautiful tall gold candlesticks, three on either side and cross in the middle, like for the Tridentine Latin Mass. Why is it then, that the altar is not decorated like this usually when the Pope says Mass there? Usually the tall golden candlesticks are on the side, and so is the cross. Lately they’ve used these horrible black candlesticks with thich squat candles that look like the yellow citronella candles we burn Summertimes on the deck at our house in Avalon, NJ. on hot nights to keep mosquitos away. Point is, alittle of this pomp would be nice for Papal Masses too.

    To his credit, JP II did go all out with pomp afew times early on in His reign, but not so much after 1990 or so.

  5. Northern Cleric says:

    Nice to see the Tiara back – I noticed its absence on June 29th last. I was at the evening Mass for the Chair of Peter a few years ago and was taken aback at the candles alight throughout the basilica and at the Altar of the Chair. A beautiful feast!

  6. Paul says:

    Beautiful photos as always; thank you, Father!

  7. Andrew says:

    Beautiful pictures, Father.
    It’s nice to see the tiara back on after its absence last year.
    How in the world did they light all those candles and keep them lit?
    That’s quite an acrobatic feat.
    Isn’t it draughty in the Basilica?

    Cleaning up the spilt wax must be a nightmare for the sanpietrini. =)

  8. éric says:

    great pictures ! c’ est magnifique !

  9. Jon says:


    Speaking of the fellow who signed your certificate of ordination, I’m aware his present term is up the day after tomorrow, the twentieth anniversary of his appointment. Do you have any idea when protocol requires he be either transferred or reconfirmed by the Holy Father?

    Unlike an ordinary, whose 75th birthday demands a submitted letter of resignation, isn’t the fate of a curial official, whether he be reconfirmed, left temporarily in his post, or sent elsewhere, customarily determined prior to the date his term expires?

  10. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    Father, magnificent shots of St. Peter’s! I love the decoration on his chair and
    statue — Peter is one of my favourite saints (we share a temper!), and it’s great to see our first Pope honoured as he so richly deserves.

  11. Ave Maria! says:

    Very nice! You are making me a little bit jealous as I wish I could be in Rome.
    But I did have a visit two years ago so I cannot complain. It was marvelous!

    Ave Maria!

  12. Garrett says:

    Fr. Z,

    It is possible that you can link us to a picture containing a griccia?

  13. I now have another entry on griccia.

  14. Jacob says:

    I am confused. What was it that was torn out that was bronze by the famed artist???

  15. Jordan Potter says:

    It was Bernini’s altar that was demolished and carted away a few year’s ago. It wasn’t made of bronze, though. It’s the grand baldachin that encases and glorifies the ancient Chair of the Popes (traditionally a chair that St. Peter actually sat in) that is bronze.

    I think baldachin is the right word.

  16. Peter says:

    Is there a photo of a pope actually sitting in the cathedra?

  17. Peter says:

    Is there a photo of a pope actually sitting in the cathedra?

  18. John S. says:

    Is there a photo of a pope actually sitting in the cathedra?

    The Cathedra is only an altar and a huge reliquary to the true chair of St Peter.
    The Pope had never sat in it, but the throne was placed in front of the altar!

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